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Guest Reviewer Ash's review of Intrusion by Mary McCluskey

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Format: Kindle Edition

File Size: 1802 KB

Print Length: 258 pages

Publisher: Little A (1 July 2016)

Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l. 

Language: English

Synopsis: A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives.

Kat and Scott Hamilton are dealing with the hardest of losses: the death of their only child. While Scott throws himself back into his law practice in Los Angeles, Kat is hesitant to rejoin the workplace and instead spends her days shell-shocked and confused, unable to focus.

When an unwelcome face from Kat’s past in England emerges—the beautiful and imposing Sarah Cherrington—Kat’s marriage is thrown into a tailspin. Now wealthy beyond anything she could have imagined as a girl, Sarah appears to have everything she could need or want. But Sarah has an agenda and she wants one more thing. Soon Kat and Scott are caught up in her devious games and power plays. Against the backdrops of Southern California and Sussex, in spare and haunting prose, Mary McCluskey propels this domestic drama to its chilling conclusion.

Ash Rating: 4/5

Ash Review:  Sometimes when life gets busy, the simple pleasure of reading a good book gets forgotten, then I read a book like “Intrusion” and remember why I need to make time to read 

“Intrusion” centres around the lives of Kat and Scott Hamilton; a couple who had a charmed and happy life until the sudden death of their only child. The novel is told from Kat’s perspective as she wrestles with grief and struggles to be with her husband, and with herself. 

Kat’s grief is written so well by McCluskey that at times I had to stop reading as she writes about every parents worst fear in such a discrete yet painful manner that it felt uncomfortable to read.

The impact of their child’s death on the Hamilton’s marriage is written in a matter of fact, somewhat distant manner reflecting Kat’s struggle to connect with Scott and the distant, sometimes inaccessible nature of his grief. The interspersing of this painful narrative with moments from Kat’s early life in the warmth of her own family and the early, innocent optimism of hers and Scott’s early parenting years only makes their current grief more raw to read. 

The Hamilton’s life is abruptly intruded by tragedy and grief but it also intruded upon by Sarah, Scott’s rich and influential client and Kat’s teenage best friend. The reminiscences on Kat and Sarah’s school and college years are well written and evoked a sense of familiarity for the complex social dynamics that are friendships in the teen years. Kat’s current suspicion of Sarah is elucidated with memories of Sarah’s behaviour in their youth, but throughout the narrative it is difficult to grasp how much Kat’s current sense of isolation and numbness impacts her suspicions of her old friend.  Kat is an authentic narrator of her life but also not wholly reliable.

The tale builds to the pinnacle of suspense with a resolution which was both unexpected and yet almost inevitable. The chapters in which the suspense culminates are brilliantly written and my sole issue with “Intrusion”,and the reason for a four rather than five star review, is that I found those chapters so good that I wished the pacing could have allowed more space for the culmination of the narrative and perhaps less space for the build up in suspense. In a sense the crescendo of this story comes later than expected and is over abruptly which left me wanting more. 

If feeling bereft at the ending of a book is the only criticism I have of it, then clearly its one I enjoyed. “Intrusion” is beautifully written and McCluskey demonstrates amazing insight into the depth of emotion which trauma can evoke in individuals and in relationships. I would highly recommend this novel and will most certainly be reading McCluskey’s next novel. 

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